Society: Class glass Coca-Cola bottle turns 100

Chuck Bennett

Atlanta — – "If you're in Atlanta this evening, this is the only place to be," proclaimed Atlanta Symphony President Terry Neal to whomever was listening as he looked around a crowded hall Thursday night at the High Museum of Art. More than 500 guests — including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, actors Kate Bosworth and Joe Manganiello, and hip-hop impresario Lyor Cohen — turned out to toast the 100th anniversary of the Coca-Cola bottle.

An army of waiters dressed in red Coca-Cola T-shirts passed hors d'oeuvres (mini cheeseburgers, lamb chops, smoked salmon and caviar) along with specialty cocktails and a variety of Coca-Cola soft drinks. Following a few quick speeches, the crowd enjoyed a first look at "The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100," a four-part exhibit featuring more than 100 original bottle-inspired artworks (including multiple Andy Warhol pieces).

The evening also featured an impressive live performance from Francesco Yates, the 19-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter behind the campaign's infectious anthem, "Nobody Like You," an original song celebrating the bottle's centennial.

In 1915, the story goes, Coca-Cola attempted to fend off a host of copycat brands by strengthening its trademark. The company and its bottling partners issued a creative challenge to a handful of U.S. glass companies — to develop a bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground. The Root Glass Co. of Terre Haute, Indiana, developed the winning design, mimicking the elongated contour shape and distinct ribs of a cocoa bean. The bottle was patented on Nov. 16, 1915, and it has since inspired a century's worth of signature moments in film, social history, design and fine arts.

Numerous activities will take place throughout the year as part of the celebration, including a traveling art exhibition featuring the Coca-Cola bottle from artists such as Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Clive Barker. The exhibit at The High, "The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100," will remain open to the public through Oct. 4.

Chuck Bennett is the Fox 2 News Style Ambassador and the creator of the Social D, a website that represents social side of Metro Detroit. See thesociald.com.